Lafayette County School District removes corporal punishment

Published 9:37 am Friday, August 9, 2019

After a discussion during its June Board meeting, the Lafayette County School District voted to eliminate one form of discipline.

At the request of school administrators, corporal punishment was removed from the school district’s policy during a school board meeting on Monday.

The request to consider the removal of one of the district’s more polarizing forms of discipline was made by assistant superintendent Patrick Robinson during the June 3 meeting, and was discussed by the district’s Board of Trustees for several minutes. Corporal punishment is still permitted under Mississippi law, but Robinson noted the school administrators felt it was an ineffective means and were concerned about any potential legal fallout that could occur.

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“We just think there’s better ways. We don’t like punishing children, but when you have to punish them, we just think there are better ways than corporal punishment, ” LCSD superintendent Adam Pugh said. “Whether you choose to use that at your home with your own children, that’s up to you. As far as a district there’s other more effective ways of dealing with discipline than corporal punishment.”

One of the potential legal issues involved students with special needs. Students with disabilities who have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a 504 Plan are not allowed to be disciplined with corporal punishment. If corporal punishment is administered on such a student, the school district could be at risk for a lawsuit. A 504 Plan is a plan developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and attends an elementary or secondary educational institution receives accommodations that will ensure their academic success and access to the learning environment.  

With the Board’s vote on Monday, there is no longer concern for that legal scenario to potentially be in play. Another, more prominent, reason was that LCSD had enacted the form of discipline sparingly in the lower grades and it had become nearly non-existent in the upper grades.

“In the last two or three years it’s maybe been used five, six times,” Pugh said. “It’s not like we’re taking a punishment that is widely used away. Most of the time, when it was used it was because the parents just insisted on using that. Our administrators said ‘Hey, we’d just rather not do this.'”

The Board’s decision went into effect starting with the 2019-20 school year, which began on Wednesday.